Casting Jesus: A century of cinematic Christ

  • Author(s): Geoff Broughton
  • When: 2015-12
  • Where: St Mark's Review
  • Australia's first public screening of 'moving pictures' was the story of Christ. Soldiers of the Cross is considered Australia's first feature-length movie, premiering at the Melbourne Town Hall on 13 September 1900 to a crowd of approximately 2,000 people. It was actually an illustrated lecture, combining photographic glass slides with short, dramatised film segments and orchestral or choir music, to relate the episodes of Christ's life. If an illustrated lecture in a church setting sounds eerily familiar then it is another reminder that the more the world changes, the more it stays the same. In the words of ancient proverbial wisdom, 'there is nothing new under the sun'. Or is there? When Commandant Herbert Henry Booth, son of Salvation Army founder William Booth, conceived the film in 1899, he could not have imagined the impact his venture would have on either popular storytelling through moving pictures or on the adaptations film would inspire in portrayals of Christ over the next century.

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